14K B- POLEVOI of the various treatments provided. It was a friendly family united by a great and common grief. Going round the wards, Vasily Vasilyevich wondered why he was meeting with such extraordinary success that morning. But did he wonder? Perhaps he saw through this naive, silent conspiracy; and if he did see through it, perhaps it enabled him more easily to bear the severe, unbeatable wound he had sustained. The branch of the poplar-tree outside the window facing east had already thrown out small, pale-yellow, sticky leaves, beneath which hung red, fluffy catkins resembling fat caterpillars. In the morning, the leaves glistened in the sun and looked as if they were made of oil-paper. They gave off a pungent, acrid smell of briny freshness which penetrated the open ventilating pane and overpowered the hospital smell that pervaded the ward. The impudence of the sparrows, which had grown plump as a result of Stepan Ivanovich's generosity, now knew no bounds. In celebration of the spring, "Subma- chine-Gunner" had got himself a new tail and was more fussy and pugnacious than ever. In the morning, the birds held such noisy meetings on the outside windowsill that the ward maid, who cleaned up the ward, lost patience with them, grumblingly climbed up on the win- dowsill and, poking her arm through the ventilating pane, shooed them off with her duster. The ice on the Moskva River had gone. After a brief, boisterous period, the river calmed down, returned to its banks and obediently placed its mighty back at the dispo- sal of ships, barges and river-trams, which during those stern days served to supplement the sadly depleted automobile service of the metropolis. Despite Kukushkin's gloomy forecast, nobody in ward forty-two was "washed away" by the spring flood. Everybody, except the Com- missar, was making good progress, and most of the conversation in the ward now was about being discharged from the hospital.